Have you ever seen one of those comics who tells really long stories, that might have been funny when they happened, but don’t really go anywhere onstage? Those people should see Patton Oswalt. Over the years, the short (look how tiny he looks in that not-so-great pic to the right), nerderrific comic has established himself as one of comedy’s great storytellers, and he was in top form this past Saturday at New York’s Town Hall.
The show was part of the New York Comedy Festival, and arguably the most anticipated show of a weekend full of top notch lineups. This was my first time seeing him in person. The venue was filled with a mix of casual festival-goers and die hard Patton fans who were getting their first East Coast fix in a long while. After all, the man’s been busy raising his first kid, acting in movies and doing high profile voice over work (Ratatouille, anyone?).
Oswalt talked about everything from fatherhood (and how it makes you wear sweatpants) to a stained hotel massage chair (“someone had to have jerked off on it”), to assuring his wife she hadn’t seen a rat in their yard, only to see it gruesomely mauled by a giant hawk during a backyard barbecue. Another highlight came during the encore, when he told the story of seeing Jerry Maguire with his brother on Christmas Eve when they were both drunk, and his brother shouting an obscenity at the screen during the movie’s most touching moment. It was a perfect example of how to take a funny, true story and present it in a way that’s rewarding for an audience, rather than being self indulgent. His bits were long with huge payoffs.
Morgan Murphy and Brent Weinbach did formidable opening sets. Murphy also brought Oswalt water half way through his set – I thought they had other people to do that! That was Oswalt’s last East Coast show for a while, but be sure to check out his most recent album, My Weakness Is Strong, by clicking on the image below.